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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Mark Hinchman. Lincoln, Nebraska: September 2011

Copyright 2011, Heidi E.S. Tomkiewicz


This study will evaluate the current barriers to standardization and widespread implementation of sustainable practices in the residential homebuilding industry. A literature review evaluates and defines the relevant tenets of sustainability creating a cohesive definition of sustainable building practices for the purposes of this study. These defined features were used to evaluate current practices and certification programs. An analysis of the current scholarship on barriers to sustainable development combined with this information to create a framework for a case study of homebuilders and their practices in the greater Rochester, New York area. This study was conducted in order to ascertain the understanding, attitudes, perceived barriers and extent of application, of sustainable practices within the greater Rochester marketplace. The study identified several barriers to the standardization of sustainable development within the market but the most prevalent was the lack of information that would allow practical implementation of practices, clarify the reasoning behind the need for these practices and the benefits to the trade. Most notably over 87% of homebuilders did not perceive residential housing as having any negative impacts on the environment. Educational systems and certification programs have failed to communicate effectively a comprehensive view of sustainability. These information gaps extended to create and enhance known infrastructure issues and perceived market barriers to sustainable development. The intent of this research is to clearly identify the barriers to sustainable development within the homebuilding marketplace creating a basis for the trade to address these issues. Understanding these barriers will establish a path to overcoming these impediments allowing the market to open up to widespread implementation of sustainable practices. The negative impacts of housing are palpable. Clearing the barriers to standardization of sustainable residential development practices will negate these impacts to both the ecological and built environments, benefitting the health of both the planet and its inhabitants.

Advisor: Mark Hinchman

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